Stephen Sondheim Wins MacDowell Lifetime Achievement Award

Stephen Sondheim is the recipient of the 2013 MacDowell Medal for lifetime achievement.

The Tony Award- and Pulitzer Prize-winning composer and lyricist is the 54th person to be honored with the medal, which is named for musicians Edward and Marian MacDowell. The award is presented by the MacDowell Colony, a prestigious artist retreat in New Hampshire. The award is rotated among seven different artist disciplines.

“This is not only a wonderful honor, but a sort of homecoming to me, as I spent much of my piano-playing childhood beginning with ‘To a Wild Rose’ and working my way up to the Second Piano Sonata,” Sondheim told the New York Times. Both of pieces mentioned are by Edward MacDowell.

He will receive the honor at a public ceremony on August 11 in Peterborough, N.H.

Sondheim’s win marks the first time a composer-lyricist that has worked primarily in musical theater throughout their career has been given the award. Others honorees with ties to the theater include Leonard Bernstein, Thornton Wilder, Edward Albee and Lillian Hellman.

Other recipients of the medal in other art venues include John Updike, Joan Didion, Georgia O’Keefe, Norman Mailer and Sonny Rollins.

Stephen Sondheim is one of the best known writers in the theater, of course, and has written for “West Side Story,” “Gypsy,” “Sunday in the Park with George,” “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum,” and “Follies,” among many others. He has won eight Tony Awards and eight Grammy Awards throughout his career. His Pulitzer Prize was awarded to honor “Sunday in the Park with George,” and he also won an Academy Award for Best Song with “Sooner or Later (I Always Get My Man),” which was featured in “Dick Tracy.”

The former Henry Miller’s Theatre was renamed the Stephen Sondheim Theatre in 2010 to honor the artist’s 80th birthday.